What do you think of when you think of Captain America: Hero, Soldier, Icon??? He is definitely all of the above. Captain America is one of the most iconic heroes to come out of the Golden Age Era of comics and his introduction in Captain America Comics #1 dated March 1941 was the most popular comic of all of World War II. This famous comic cover depicts an American Super Solider socking Adolf Hitler a real life super villain out to conquer the world square in the jaw! POW!!! Also introduced in this historical comic is Cap’s famous sidekick Bucky Barnes and the villainous Red Skull.
The important thing about this comic is it’s historical significance; yes the 1st appearance and origin of Cap, Bucky and Red Skull are pretty important. Captain America #1 hits newsstands about 9 months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. America was not even in the War when this comic comes out, so why did this happen? The fact is President Franklin Roosevelt was responsible for the creation of Captain America. I am sure you are now confused since Joe Simon and Jack Kirby have been given credit as the creators of Captain America for over 70 years. They were in fact the creators of this classic character but they were no doubt influenced by all of the propaganda being generated at the time by FDR to gather support for America to enter the War and help our European Allies. FDR had been secretly sending aid to his friend and ally Winston Churchill for up to 2 years to help our allies in England. The country as totally opposed to involving ourselves in a War across the ocean but FDR was using Propaganda to try to gain support and make American’s realize how evil Adolf Hitler was. The truth was that when he had won in Europe we would have been next. FDR had this propaganda everywhere newspapers, bill boards,and magazines . This definitely had an effect on Joe Simon and Jack Kirby who created a Super Soldier to combat this growing threat of Hitler and his Nazi troops.
Once America entered the WW II soldiers overseas read more comic books than children as part of their care packages. Their favorite was of course Captain America and Wonder Woman but that will part of a separate story later. American Soldiers could relate to Captain America on a personal level. He was a soldier like them fighting the Nazi’s and the Japanese in the trenches. He was faster and stronger but he was not bullet proof with only his mighty shield to protect him. Captain America represented to American Soldiers what they were fighting for their country America itself to defend it against the growing menace from overseas.
I found out 1st hand how important Captain America is still to WWII vets today. I am also a Scout Leader here in Elkhart and several years ago I dressed up as Captain America for the local Memorial Day Parade with my Scouts. We were of course concerned about children running into the parade route to meet their favorite Hero. But what actually happened was something completely different and unexpected. The parade had to be stopped at least 3 times due to WW II vets in their 80′s and 90′s coming out into the parade to shake my hand or pose for pictures with me as Captain America. I was very moved and honored by these vets who gave so much for our great country. I was contacted afterwards by the Veterans Association asking for me to continue this great tradition for them. I have been doing this every year since when I am able to for them. My grandfather Sam Stewart a coal miner from West Virginia was a WW II vet in the 101st Airborne which was the highest decorated Allied Unit of all of WWII . He was their most decorated member of this famous unit. His service was one of the reason that I joined the Army myself years ago.
Captain America has a very personal importance to me for these reasons. I know so many of you probably have a personal connection to this great and historical figure. Many of our visitors have come here to Hall of Heroes to view our Captain America #1 on display. We are the only museum that has a Captain America #1 since a near mint copy is valued at $500,000 WOW. It is the 3rd most expensive comic after Action #1 1st Superman and Detective Comics #27 1st Batman both over the 1 million dollar mark. It is very important to us to preserve this important piece of history. We are trying to raise between $2500-$5,000 to have some restoration work done on this comic to help preserve it. As you can see from the photos our copy is a little rough and it is so important to preserve this important piece of history for future generations. We need your help if you would like to help us out with this important project please donate to our Captain America Preservation Project.
Thank you for your support
Curator Hall of Heroes